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Wages Affected by Freight Slowdown

Expectations Lower for Driver Wage Increases

The fourth-quarter Transport Capital Partners (TCP) survey finds carriers predicting smaller increases in driver wages while remaining cautiously optimistic for volume growth in 2016.

The trucking industry saw a slowdown in freight over the fourth quarter of 2015. Expectations indicate that increases in driver wages will be limited in the year ahead as volume expectations were lowered for 2016.

A substantial majority, 70% of carriers surveyed, expect wage increases of only 1% to 5%. Moreover, 22% of carriers expect to see no increases at all. These expectations are similar to TCP survey results from Q4 2010 and Q4 2012, but notably more conservative than the past couple of years.

Richard Mikes, TCP Partner, states:

“Carriers are in a tactical seasonal strategy – the first quarter being weak in loads, more drivers being available from construction in northern climates, and deep cutbacks in truck purchases over the last couple of months. The longer term struggle between business caution and the need to improve driver staffing via driver wage levels will be interesting to watch in 2016.”

Volume Expectations Growth Slows for 2016

Given the poor economic results from the last quarter of 2015, it is not surprising that growth increase expectations for 2016 are at their lowest levels since the fourth quarter of 2012.

This survey found that only one-third of carriers are expecting volume increases in 2016. At this point last year, that number was almost twice as high. Furthermore, half of all survey respondents are looking toward a flat year ahead. This is the highest percentage of carriers expecting volumes to ‘remain the same’ in the history of this survey.

However, this survey’s lowered expectations do carry optimism for the year ahead. A third of carriers are still expecting increases in freight volumes, with only 1/6 expecting decreases.

“While volume and rate expectations have tumbled, there is still no fear of a looming recession in these results,” summarized TCP Partner, Steven Dutro.

Contact:

Richard Mikes
Office: (239) 395-2595
rmikes@transportcap.com

Steven Dutro
Office: (970) 204-1492
sdutro@transportcap.com

The Business Expectations Survey by TCP, now in its seventh year, has given forward-looking guidance from industry leaders through both sides of the economic cycle. Mikes and Dutro both have senior-level experience advising carriers on strategic and operational issues as well as in mergers and acquisitions in the trucking industry.

About ACT Research Co., LLC

ACT Research, a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators, has been the recognized leading publisher of commercial vehicle (CV) industry data, market analysis, and forecasting services for the North American market since 1986. Their commitment to data quality & integrity; in-depth analysis; and timeliness have made their services the industry standard.

For more information, visit www.actresearch.net.

Transport Capital Partners at the TCA annual convention on “The Perfect Buyer”

Transport Capital Partners attended the TCA annual convention and was pleased to present seminars on The Perfect Buyer – an ESOP. You can view the presentation and watch a testimonial video on the ESOP program on our ESOP page.

Carriers Continue to Evaluate HOS Impacts

Transport Capital Partners’ (TCP) fourth-quarter survey results showed new Hours of Service rules impacting carrier productivity. TheTrucker.com posted a recent article detailing this impact.

Increases in rates and improved accessorial charges have yet to materialize for many carriers. They are, instead, looking to increase productivity as a means to raising their bottom lines.

However, the new HOS regulations appear to be significantly impacting that avenue of growth.

Seventy-eight percent of carriers reported HOS as having some impact on productivity. Thirty-seven percent say the new regulations will have more than a 5 percent impact.

Amazingly, almost six months after the changes were implemented, 16 percent of carriers still have not determined the impact. 

Read more here.

Entry-Level Drivers Will Be Sought

With the many changes taking place in the regulatory and economic environment, many carriers are reviewing their labor policies. Highlighting 4th Quarter BES results, Commercial Carrier Journal (ccjdigital.com) recently reported on these trends.

The TCP survey showed less than 30% of carriers hiring inexperienced, entry-level drivers. But that number is set to grow. Slightly over half of all carriers expect to soon be training and utilizing inexperienced, entry-level drivers.

While this majority is slight, a stunning 84 percent of carriers are willing to support allowing younger, properly trained drivers to enter the driving pool.

“We believe this means they support other carriers hiring and training younger driver so that they can then poach them later,” says Richard Mikes, TCP Partner.

Read the article here.

Smaller Carriers May Be Disadvantaged Under ACA

According to a recent Transport Topics article citing TCP survey results, smaller carriers are more likely to report adverse effects from the Affordable Care Act than larger carriers. Thirty percent of smaller companies are considering dropping health coverage for employees compared with only 10% of larger carriers.

The article quotes TCP partner Richard Mikes, ”Smaller carriers are at a disadvantage to find and retain drivers if they cannot compete with the health packages offered by larger carriers.”

The new health care law will require most companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to workers.

Read more here.

TruckingInfo.com Shares Survey Results on Health Care Changes

Carriers are gradually coming to terms with the effects of the new health care law, and what they must do to comply, according to TCP’s third quarter survey.

Thirty-six percent of carriers last year indicated that the new law had made no difference to their business. This quarter, that number dropped to just 8%.

Carriers have also shifted their strategies for dealing with the increased costs. In the fourth quarter of 2011, 43% of carriers indicated they were likely to have employees contribute more toward health costs. Now, carriers are more likely to implement wellness programs (44%) and health savings plans (30%).

Read the article here.

Hiring Qualified Employees at Critical Positions Proving Difficult

A recent article from TruckingInfo.com sites data from the second quarter TCP survey showing carriers having trouble finding qualified employees and drivers.

In the survey, sixty-five percent of carriers expressed difficulty finding qualified maintenance technicians. Furthermore, 30% stated they are having problems filling operations staff and fleet manager level positions.

“Good employees, at all levels, have always been the lifeblood of the industry,” says TCP partner Richard Mikes. “Now, as we see growth in demand on the horizon, excellent human resource management is critical.”

Carriers, because of these shortages of drivers, technicians, and fleet managers, remain concerned about adding capacity at this time. Seventy-percent of larger carriers, and 50% of smaller carriers, in the survey indicated they were having trouble finding qualified technicians.

Click here to read the full article from TruckingInfo.com.

New Fleet Investments Unlikely for Many Carriers

Recent articles from TodaysTrucking.com and TruckingInfo.com report that inadequate rates of return are keeping fleets from buying.

They share results from the second quarter TCP industry survey that show only slightly over 50 percent of carriers seeing returns on investments that can justify new equipment purchases. This figure is up just four percentage points from November 2012.

Additionally, one-third of all carriers reported having no current plans to add any new equipment. At this time, replacing aging fleets is the principle driver of most equipment investment.

“Higher equipment costs in recent years, combined with the lower utilization resulting from new HOS rules, will continue to make adequate returns on investment a challenge,” said Steven Dutro, TCP partner.

Read the complete articles here and here.

New HOS Leading to Tightening Capacity

TruckingInfo.com references data from the TCP second-quarter industry survey in their recent article. Survey results showed that almost 40% of carriers are expecting utilization to lower more than 5%. Just over 38% of carriers expect under a 5% change while only 3% expect no impact whatsoever. Strikingly, almost 19% of carriers have still not determined the full impact of these new regulations. Click here to read the full article.

Three-Quarters of Carriers Expecting Lower Utilization

TheTrucker.com reports that, with new hours of service regulations, in effect on July 1st, approximately 75% of carriers are expecting utilization to lower. The way shippers work to minimize the impact of these changes will also affect this tightening capacity.

“This potential reduction in truck capacity is hitting at the same time as spot rates are climbing, reflecting a stronger demand in June. Rates will likely increase further in the months ahead,” noted Richard Mikes, TCP Partner.

Full article here.